Kendell Family Session

This family! These guys are so awesome. They are basically family to me and my hubby. I worked with Haleh when she was in middle school and we did a junior youth group with her and her friends. They all went to our wedding. Minoo watched my son while I was finishing up at University of Washington. Both of my kids adore them. They are very special to all of us.

So after I took Haleh’s college grad photos, Minoo wanted to set up a family shoot with all of them and their 2 dogs, especially because one of the dogs, Ruffi, is getting old, so they wanted some photos with him. Ruffi is such a cool dog, and my son spent a lot of time playing with him when he was with Minoo during the days. We met up at Ballinger Lake Park, which used to be a golf course but now is a public park. It was such a cool spot with some fun features like beautiful fall leaves and soft lavender flowers, lots of green grass and wide open areas for the dogs to do their thing. The Kendells are playful and have a good sense of humor so I really wanted to capture some of that in their photos as well as the standard posed shots. We told stories, and laughed, and by the end the wind started blowing and the rain was coming down hard. Typical fall weekend weather for Seattle, haha. But any time I can spend with these guys is a good time for me. And it warms my heart to be able to capture some memories of them just being their normal selves with their sweet family of 3 (well 3 humans and 2 dogs). Here are some of my favorites below, maybe you can get a sense of how fun it is to be with them:

Elliot's Senior Session

Back in August I ran a contest as a kick-off and celebration of the re-launch of my photography business this year.  The winner got to have a free one hour photo session with me along with some other goodies.  Imagine my surprise when the winner turned out to be Elliot, a young gal that saw my advertisement about the contest on one of the Facebook groups that I had posted in.  I met up with her and was intrigued!  She is going into her senior year this year, but is actually already taking college classes through the Running Start program (she did this last year, too).  I learned some cool things about her—-she has already been a competitive dancer, acts in the local theater, rescued a dog that she met during her trip to Jamaica, and runs her own small baking business in which she donates cakes to kids and runs fundraisers for things like National Suicide Prevention Month.  She is not one to sit around. This kid is amazing.   


So for her session, she wanted to get her senior portraits done.  We met up at Greenlake, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t be pouring down rain.  There were some light sprinkles, but nothing too bad, thank goodness!  I love shooting at Greenlake because there are so many different types of areas to shoot and that means a variety of backdrops.  Since Elliot is into theater, I thought it would be cool to get some photos in front of the Bath House Theater there.  She was basically a pro and I had so much fun photographing her—-she was not shy and definitely confident! We got some really cute shots of her in front of the theater! I really enjoyed my session with her and learning more about her pursuits, and her future goals. I hope to work with her again in sometime, hopefully on a project I am just now in the planning stages of. Watch out world, this girl is going places!

Suzie's Surprise Session at Flowerworld

So, I know Suzie through my friend Apryl (who I’ve blogged about before), who referred Suzie to me several years ago when she was looking for someone to take headshots for her. The super cool thing is that she needed headshots to potentially use in her NOVEL that she was WRITING! How cool is that?! She was writing her first novel, Physical Touch (which I own, and read!), which is a romance novel—-that’s what she writes. Now she has 5 books from “The Sweetest Thing” series, 4 book from “The Physical” series, and 3 standalone books. She is a writing machine! Anyway, it’s so exciting to know a published author! If you go to her website, https://www.sierrahillbooks.com you can see one of the headshots I took of her (the second set of headshots!) aaaaand you can check out the books that she has available for purchase through Amazon.

Anyway, I was excited when she contacted me again to schedule a session—-but this time a birthday surprise for her mom and her aunt who were BOTH turning 80 years old. That’s right—twins! And Suzie’s sister was able to make it, too, so it was a shoot with two sets of sisters. So sweet! The birthday gals didn’t know in advance what Suzie had planned. We met at Flowerworld, and it was a beautiful day——not too sunny, which is good for photos. But Flowerworld is absolutely beautiful, so we had some great backdrops.

I hope all 4 of the ladies had as much fun as I did, this was a great group to hang out with for an hour and take photos of. They all have such a great sense of humor. We had a situation where one of the ducks kept photo bombing our shot and we had to chase it away. After several attempts it finally left. That was a first for me! Susie’s hubby had gotten some props—-signs to celebrate the 80th birthday of the twins, so we used those in some of the shots, and the gals played along. I seriously cannot believe that these two are 80 years old. They look amazing and have so much energy and spirit, definitely inspiring! I felt so happy to take photos of all of them because I could see how much they all loved each other, and truly enjoy being with each other.

Some of my favorites from this session are below. Note the duck chase.

Why open a photography business in a saturated market?

This goes through my head a lot.  Actually, it did back in 2012 when I first started taking clients.  And that's probably why I was kind of wishy-washy about my business before.  I wasn't totally committed.  I didn't want to invest too much money or time if it wasn't going to work.  And, when I look back now, I don't think I was ready to start a big successful photography business at that point.  I mean, who knows if their business is going to turn out to be really successful, maybe some people know that, but I certainly wasn't sure.  I had just gone back to college to get my undergrad degree, and that was really my main focus at the time along with family and Baha'i activities.  

But earlier this year when I made the decision to actually build the business for real, that was the turning point in my attitude about it all.  My kids no longer needed me for every single function in their life (the endless diapers, nursing sessions, naps, etc), and so I felt a little bit of freedom.  Not in a negative way, my kids will always need me and I am happy to be there for them.  But, in an awake way like, 'oh, I should probably start thinking about going back to work and what I want that to look like'.  I feel blessed that I don't have to work right now if I don't want to, so there was never any pressure to start looking for jobs and figuring that out.  It was just kind of a thought that crossed my mind and when I started mulling around whether or not I wanted to do photography as a full time business, I figured if I did want to, then I should build it now so that when both kids are in school, the business will actually be full time!  

A lot of thought went into my decision; did I want to put in all the time and effort it would actually require, would I be able to schedule things around the schedule of my family, would I really have time to put towards all the moving parts of a small business, did I have enough money to get it going, would I have clients still, how would I find new clients, did I even still take good photos, and most pressing----why start this up again when there are so.many.photographers.everywhere.  I think mostly, I followed what my heart wanted to do.  I figure that if I put in the effort, had support from the key figures in my life, made the time to do it, and stayed in alignment with my purpose, then it would work out.  But what was my purpose?  What was my purpose for having my own photography business?  Why photography?  Why not work at the bank again, or find a job in my field of study (biology) or that would use the knowledge I earned along with my degree?  

I thought about that for awhile.  And I prayed about it.  I meditated.  Over the course of however long it was, maybe a couple weeks, things kept popping into my head; I don't want to leave my kids, I want to be here for them when they need me, and I want to be with them most of the time; I want to earn money for my family, I want my kids to be able to go to college, I want to contribute so my hubby doesn't feel so much of the financial burden; I actually like to work and get stuff done, if you know me then you know I just love to cross things off my to-do list.  All of those things are true and are very important to me.  But the purpose part of it kept nagging me.  In the Baha'i Faith, which is the faith I am a part of, work is elevated to the state of prayer.  So is producing art.  Along with service to humanity.  These things are so important in the faith, this is how we can be in a state of prayer in our lives without actually becoming an ascetic.  It is through our work, and through creating and through connecting and serving our brothers and sisters that we can actually live our material lives in prayer!  Isn't that amazing?!  And if you're not religious or spiritual or whatever, I am sure you can still see the virtue in work, creation and service.  

But what I kept coming back to was thinking about the experiences I had with my clients before.  I replayed those times back in my head.  I felt the happiness again from the connection and interaction and relationship built with those clients.  Many of them were already my friends and family.  Some were new to me.  But, I think back to the time that my cousin and his wife trusted and encouraged me as my first client, to shoot their maternity session.  I remember doing research and practicing, and then taking forever during the session, and they were so patient and wonderful.  And then I got to edit the photos and that was so cool, too, because I got to go back and see what I had created and re-live those moments.  There was the first wedding I shot, a super sweet couple, in the backyard of the bride's parents home in Eastern, WA.  The whole family and their friends were sooooo nice!  There was so much love!  I remember practicing with my camera on my beautiful niece, Lucy.  She was a baby and I had so much fun capturing her first several months just for my own pleasure.  I photographed my first big wedding, a referral from one of my friends.  The bride and groom were so amazing to trust me to shoot their special day!  I am so thankful, and I learned so much!  The bride was nervous, she doesn't really like to have her photo taken.  We did the first look and then started shooting her and her groom-to-be around downtown Seattle, having a blast, and by the end she was strutting down the street and stopping traffic like a pro.  It was at my friends' wedding, Amy and Amir, that I realized how amazing it was to be the photographer for these kinds of moments.  Now, these are my friends, and I could have just been a guest.  But, they booked me for their engagement and then their wedding.  So I essentially got a backstage pass to everything that was going on behind the schemes.  Some of it is chaotic, but what I got to be a part of was so special.  The moment between the bride and her mom when she is getting into her dress.  The sister is helping to button up the gown.  The first look!  The bride and groom see each other for the first time all dressed up.  It's nervous, emotional, exciting, romantic all at the same time.  The joy of the portraits with just the bride and groom.  The ceremony!  How beautifully each couple puts together their ceremony to reflect their love, their one and only story.  The guests mingling and the happiness in the air.  The first dances---so sweet!  Some moments stolen away from the ceremony so the newly married couple can just take it in.  It's all so wonderful.  And it was at that wedding that I realized---this is some good stuff!  I get to be witness to all these beautiful moments of my very own friends!  More than I would as a guest.  

I get to be a part of documenting my friend's journey to becoming a mother for the first time.  I am the person who gets to be with my friends who are newly engaged and full of love and joy and excitement for what the future will bring.  My friends asked me to be the person to capture the memories from the birthday party, or the wedding anniversary, or the reunion of sisters, or the celebration of a new life.  I am behind the scenes at the wedding of new friends who get to be married in the venue that was once the church her grandparents got married in fifty some years before, the groom surprising the bride with her favorite Baha'i singer during the ceremony, and the extremely touching personal vows that tell all of us the story of how they knew they were meant to be together forever.  I'm the one who has tears streaming down my face while I am watching these momentous celebrations and once in a lifetime memories.  And IT IS AWESOME!  

That's when I remembered---THIS IS THE STUFF!  This is what it's about, man!  It's the connections, it's being there for those moments.  And as I get older, it's what I recognize as the most important in my own life, too.  Not the stuff and the things, but the relationships we have with people, the way we make people feel after interacting with us, the love we spread.  So, the photography business is really just the vehicle and the purpose for me is the connections and interactions and friendships.  It can be the way that I carry out my purpose, but isn’t my purpose, does that make sense? My purpose isn’t to take pictures, but I can infuse my business and the interactions with my clients with my purpose. It’s amazing.

So, if you have read this far, thanks for sticking around! I know a lot of people don’t read things more than 140 characters these days, hahaha. But really, I hope you got to know me a little better and why I want to continue to build my photography business amidst a completely saturated field. I appreciate you reading, I appreciate you following my journey, and I appreciate your support!

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Chantelle's Beachy Maternity Session

So this just happens to be my best friend---my person.  The depth of our friendship is one for the books.  It's hard to know if it's us, or if Chantelle has many of these types of friendships because that's just how she is.  She's the kind of person you can be authentic with and she still loves you, haha.  She's the kind of person that truly doesn't judge, is trustworthy, funny, loyal, giving, kind, and full of faith.  I could go on and on about this gal.  So when she got pregnant with her third (she had twins the first time!), of course I wanted to be the one to shoot her maternity photos.  It happened to work out perfectly that I was craving to do a maternity beach session, and that it was about time for her maternity session (we actually pushed it a little late because of life, but it worked out!), and that she lives literally 1 minute up the hill from a beach!  We enlisted her hubby to watch my two kiddos and their twins and they played at the water's edge and hunted for geoducks while I photographed Chantelle in the blazing midday sun.  Not the best time to shoot by far, but we made it work.  I literally could have continued all day, but Chantelle was 39 weeks pregnant, we were all sweating, and we were about to breeze right through nap time for the toddlers.  So we had to stop.  But it was so nice!  The water was beautiful (minus the seaweed everywhere but it is a huge kelp forest there), and despite the blazing hot sun we found a great place to shoot right under the boardwalk area.  I got to use the 85mm f1.8 lens which is my all time favorite ever.  And later that evening when I started editing them, I was so excited to deliver the gallery to Chantelle because she looks absolutely stunning!  She later showed them to her hubby of course, and her mom, who promptly declared me their official family photographer---which I love!  So I'm gonna hold you guys to it!  Haha.  Here are some of my favorites, because obviously!

 

Maddie's 2 Year Old Photos

Back in June, one of my besties (Christina) from the time we were 11 came over with her two kiddos to get some photos done of her daughter who had recently turned two.  Toddlers are a tricky bunch sometimes to photograph because they are like honey badgers.  They don't care.  Often times they won't sit.  They won't look.  They just won't.  I happen to love taking photos of toddlers precisely because of this.  And I also happen to love photos that are more real and capture the subjects in that moment, exactly how they are.  And toddlers ARE SO REAL, hahahaha.  Getting Maddie to sit, look at the camera, and do what we asked was no exception to the toddler rule.  But her momma got her to sing and dance a little, smell the flowers, and we did a lot of bribing with huckleberries picked and eaten straight off the bushes in my backyard.  Once we did that, it was all over.  She wanted nothing to do with any of it and just wanted to harvest huckleberries.  I get it, that's what my kids do all day long in the early summer and it's amazing.  So, I got some shots of her just doing her thing.  And I happen to adore the photos because she was so focused and excited for these huckleberries.  Every once in awhile, she would have this huge grin on her face and her awesome dimples would pop out, dimples that are identical to her momma's.  I snapped some of her son, Liam, the older of the two, and captured his ridiculously beautiful eyes---also identical to his momma's.  I can't believe how similar these features are to Christina's!  And the thing that blows me away the most is that Maddie looks sooooooo much like Christina at that age.  Like, identical.  It's mind boggling!  We enjoyed watching Liam dote on his little sister, and watching Maddie get so excited about the huckleberries, or walking down the wobbly path of river rocks to the grass.  I am excited to do a full family photo session next time so that we can get some of the whole family!  Here are some of my faves from the day:

 

Apryl's Family Photo Session at FlowerWorld

This family!  So Apryl just happens to be one of my dearest friends.  And she has been one of the best resources, source of referrals and all around support for my business.  Seriously, she is great. Our first shoot together was for her maternity photos.  We collaborated on everything; what poses she liked and were flattering, what outfits to wear along with accessories, and we even scouted a location together.  And since then I have photographed her newborn session, and family photos every year.  I have learned a lot from working with her as she is always so open and gives constructive suggestions---not criticism, which I appreciate so much!

This year for their family session, Apryl was thinking of somewhere outside with lots of beautiful foliage and flowers.  She suggested Flowerworld.  I have been there because we purchased some trees a few years back, but had not photographed there.  Apryl did some scouting before the family session, and then right before our session I checked out the best areas.  If you haven't been to Flowerworld, I would highly recommend it!  They have soooooo many different types of plants and flowers and gardening stuff to purchase, and they allow you to just roam around their beautiful property and visit and snap some pictures.  There is a particularly great area that has a little pond, fountain, water wheel, a small creek, and of course the flowers, trees, and bushes.  Oh!  And there is a little dock at the edge of the pond.  Anyway!  We gathered, everyone was all dressed up and coordinated so nicely (seriously Apryl is the best at this), chose some awesome spots to shoot and just had fun!  It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day.  We were joking, laughing, watching Apryl's little boy, Landon, run around.  The group included her hubby, son, and both sets of grandparents.  We got some super cute shots with Landon and his parents and each set of grandparents.  We got some super cute shots of each couple.  We got some super cute shots of the whole group.  We even got a shot of Grandpa, Dad and Landon---3 generations!  I love that!  It was a really sweet day with a really great family!  Some of my favorite pictures from our session are below.  I super love the one of Apryl next to the water wheel because it's adorable, the one of Landon and the gals because he has the BEST Dancing with the Stars pose, and the one with Landon and his grandparents and the Grandmas are smooching him.  Hahaha, can you tell he is the center of it all?  Oh and you may notice a few of Apryl all by herself and that's just cause I love asking her to be my "model"!

Gallagher Family Photos at UW

The first time I photographed my friends Larry and Shirin, it was for their engagement back in 2013.  I'm pretty sure I was heavily pregnant.  We met at Greenlake in Seattle and had a blast because Larry makes everyone laugh and watching the two of them be cute together was so sweet.  

Fast forward to this summer when I met up with Larry and Shirin at the University of Washington campus in June to take pictures of their family (!!!) with their new baby boy (!!!).  The weather can be hit or miss in June, and thankfully it was a beautiful warm and sunny day.  UW is my alma matter and I love this campus, and there are so many places to take pictures.  We met by the fountain, but the sun was beating down on us so we actually took the pictures in the shade of the rose gardens and in front of the chemistry building.  It was fun chasing after big brother, Kamal, and trying to get some shots of him--I love capturing toddlers because they are so expressive and sincere.  Kamal was so darn cute running around with a huge smile, his beautiful brown eyes and blonde hair.  We did a fair amount of bribing to get some of the shots of the 4 of them as a family, and I was cracking up at his excitement to watch "garbage truck diveos", which translated from toddler means "garbage truck videos".  And the new baby boy was so cute, just a month old at the time.  I got my baby fix by holding and cuddling him.  Larry and Shirin are some of my favorite people and I am so glad to have been able to photograph their sweet little family.  One of my favorite things about this business is that I have a lot of long standing clients and I get to follow their journey sometimes from engagement to wedding to families.  Being able to capture memories in photos for my friends is so special to me, and I was happy to spend time with these awesome Gallaghers to freeze this sweet moment in their lives with their beautiful boys.  I love the photos below, especially where Larry is trying to wrangle Kamal, because it is so real and toddlers just don't give a crap and if you follow my Instagram page then you may have read a post that shares how much I love photographing toddlers.  Kamal is just too cute.  Anyway.  My other favorite is of Shirin cradling baby Zia and just smiling and talking to him.  I teared up a little because I know that love--the love of a momma for her precious new baby it's so sweet.  More of my faves below:

Theresa's Maternity and Family Photos

When Theresa was pregnant with her third baby, I waited for a little bit and then when I couldn't wait any longer asked if she wanted to schedule a maternity session with me, hahaha.  I was excited because Theresa was so supportive and kind and encouraging when I first started my business in 2012 and was one of my very first clients.  I photographed her maternity session when she was pregnant with her second baby.  And then when that baby was born, I photographed his newborn session.  These were both my first maternity and newborn sessions.  And Theresa and her hubby Chris were so great, and patient, and helpful.  So anyway, when I found out that she was pregnant with a baby girl (!!!) I was so excited for them.  They both work very hard and so we ended up having to schedule the session later than normal, and it happened to be right on her due date!  Photographing these guys is so great, they seem to be very comfortable in front of the camera and I think part of that is because they just do what they do.  They laugh, play, make jokes, and their photos end up looking natural.  

So for this session, we also got some family photos as well.  The two boys are excited to be big brothers (well, one of them already is, so he's a pro) and they were so sweet when talking about their baby sister that would be coming along any day at that point!  They also had some pretty great posing ideas for the portraits.  And while I was photographing Chris and Theresa, the boys ran around and played with my little boy, all of them pretend sword-fighting and showing off their ninja moves and whatnot.  

Anyway, I was so happy with the way these photos turned out, the lighting was great, and Theresa literally glowed--so she looked amazing!  The boys look adorable and Chris looks like a cool dad.  And we had lots of laughs during the session, because we always do!  

Thanks so much to this family for your continued support, and I can't wait to see that sweet little baby girl and capture some sweet memories with her. 

Haleh's Graduation Photo Session

I'm so excited I got to take photos of this girl.  Haleh recently graduated from UW Bothell.  It's crazy as you get older, watching the younger generation go through their milestones like graduating, getting full time jobs, and everything else.  I remember fondly the junior youth spiritual empowerment classes that I animated with Haleh and her classmates when they were 14. I remember watching her turn 15, which in the Baha'i Faith is a big deal, and the birthday party she hosted. She honored all her "teachers" in front of the guests by explaining how each one had an impact in her life and thanking them for it.  I remember watching her as she continued through high school and on into college.  I remember thinking, many times, how she is so wise beyond her years and so intelligent and that she just has this maturity about her that is not common among her age group.  Spiritual maturity and wisdom as well as emotional.  Haleh has always demonstrated a knowledge and peace in who she is and what she wants to do.  It is truly inspiring.  I feel privileged to have witnessed her as she grew from a junior youth into a young woman, and honestly, I have learned from her steadfastness and self-knowledge.  I can't wait to see what she has in store for this life.  Congratulations Haleh!  

Photos For the Fund--Baha'i Fundraiser

Back in April, I decided to hold a small and sort of last minute fundraiser for the Baha'i Fund.  In case you don't know, I am a Baha'i, and I am figuring out how to use the writings and principles of the Baha'i Faith to run and sustain my business. The end of the Baha'i year is in April, and I wanted to be able to contribute financially from my business to the Fund.  So, I was inspired to hold a fundraiser where I would choose a day and set up as many mini-sessions as I could.  These sessions were approximately 30 minutes in length, and I would contribute 95% of the proceeds to the Baha'i Fund.  I have to say, it was super fun, and obviously for a wonderful cause.  I was able to see some friends that I haven't seen for awhile, and photograph their sweet families.  I had set up a "studio" in my front room and thankfully it wasn't raining that day (this was in the streak of rain that we had for about 18 days in a row), so we were able to take some shots outside, which is my favorite place to take photos.  I was extremely happy with the whole experience and I hope to offer this a couple times a year from now on.  

 

Family photos at Bothell Landing

Back in December, I photographed this sweet family at Bothell Landing.  I had never been there myself but one of my friends recommended it to me as it has various types of scenery; trees, bridge, river (actually I think it's a slough...?), cute historical house, etc.  I checked it out online and decided I could probably make it work.  So I met the family there, and it was a glorious sunny day.  I checked out a few spots, and got really excited because the cute historical house that is there is so adorable with it's worn dark wood and original charm.  The girls were fun to photograph, they were a little shy at first but then warmed up and the sun lit up their blonde curls so idyllically.  The family was great to work with and I really enjoyed photographing them; they seemed very at ease and I could tell that theirs is a family full of laughter and love.  

Also, If you haven't checked out Bothell Landing, I would highly recommend it.  There's a small park with a playground, walking trails and again, the adorable little old house.  It's obviously a great place to take photos, but also fun to just wander around on a beautiful sunny day.

Foyston Family Pics--Kubota Gardens, Seattle

So I got the chance to take pics of my bestie and her super cool family in September.  Chantelle and her husband Jershon are some of the most amazing people I know, and they happened to have a set of equally amazing twins; Bohanan and Tessa.  We scheduled a session, hoping that the Seattle weather would stay beautiful for us, and indeed it was a sunny and clear day.  If you haven't had pictures taken at Kubota Gardens, you should get on that because the park is absolutely beautiful with a huge variety of flora and fauna, sweet stone stepping paths and hidden nooks perfect for capturing those really great photos.  I have to say the kids, both 19 months old at the time, did pretty well for being in a big park with lots of stuff to climb and grassy spots to run free.  The best part of all of this for me was being able to capture the sincere love between my best friend and her love and their precious babies.